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Claire Buhrfeind Goes on 5.14 Sending Spree

Claire Buhrfeind is visiting the Red River Gorge and has climbed three 5.14s in two days.

Buhrfeind, one of America’s top competition climbers, had never climbed a 5.14 before her visit to Kentucky. Now she has climbed Omaha Beach 5.14a, Lucifer 5.14c and Southern Smoke 5.14c.

Southern Smoke is one of the most classic routes of the grade in the U.S.A. and has been climbed a number of times.

The first ascent was by Joe Kinder, who said: “I couldn’t believe it hadn’t been bolted. To me, the direct line was the most profound thing I had seen in the Red at the time.

I was really drawn to the steep angle and the sculpted holds that the Red yields. Through the process of cleaning, bolting, and working the project, my psych verged on the point of manic. I remember leaving Miguel’s Pizza at 10 p.m. one night to bolt.

“There were bats flying around and spooky noises in the woods. I was alone and totally losing it. I finished and ran back to my car, looking in my rearview mirror to see if there was anything behind me or psycho killers hunting me.

“To go through the process of a first ascent with someone else is awesome as you share ideas, beta, theories, and fight through the unknown together. [Brad Weaver and I] were toe to toe for the FA, and it just happened to be me to climb it first.”

Southern Smoke has been climbed by other top female climbers, including Anna Laitinen, Brooke Raboutou, Melissa Le Nevé and Sasha DiGiulian.

Lucifer 5.14c is another area test-piece with a handful of ascent. At the end of last year, American Michaela Kiersch sent it and other hard lines at the Red including Pure Imagination 5.14c and the first female ascent of Golden Ticket 5.14c.

And Omaha Beach 5.14a is the king line at the Madness Cave, first climbed in 1999 by Bill Ramsey. It climbs out the steepest part of the cave to the highest part of the cliff. It was originally graded 5.13d, but upgraded after several holds broke. This is the quintessential Red line.